Infamous Unfortunate: Memoirs of a Kumsari 3

Ibrahim jumps off and Abbashar slows to a stop again, as a woman waddles up behind the bus, a 4x4 carrying roughly 200 shopping bags and dragging a long line of kids with ice creams behind her. She roughly pushes Ibrahim out of the way to get on. If students are every bus driver and kumsari’s worst enemy, then women are a close runner up. They take twice as long as anyone to get on or off, they talk too loud, almost never pay the whole fare and are always carrying things that take up extra space. They’re always getting into fights if someone bumps into them and their clothes are always in everyone’s way. Ibrahim watches as she squeezes through the door and down the aisle, knocking everyone around her with her bags and children, puffing and wheezing and stopping more than once to drag her toub up from the ground. She looks around for a suitable seat, stepping back and forth on a couple of toes more than once, until she settles on 2 adjacent seats next to the window. She then proceeds to push and squash her 5 squabbling children and their ice creams into the seat and settles herself in next to them, placing the shopping bags underneath her where they slide up and down, leaking their contents onto the floor under the passengers feet. Abbashar watches silently in his rear-view mirror until this well known procedure is finished then revs his engine and slides back into traffic. Ibrahim hangs from the door and looks in at them through the window, anticipating the argument that he knows by heart. He watches as the children lick the ice cream off their hands and shove each other around, crying and kicking each other. The woman busies herself by looking in her purse, rifling through her shopping bags and occasionally delivering a debilitating pinch to one of her children’s thighs. Ibrahim reaches in through the window and jingles his change at her. She hands him some coins without looking up from her bags. Ibrahim counts the coins while keeping one eye on her and her children as one of the kids pushes his ice cream cone into the head of the person sitting in front of them. As expected, the fare is incomplete.

‘Yaaaa ostaza,’ he grumbles, as a man covered in ice cream jumps out of his seat, yelping, and tries to reach down the back of his shirt. No one hears Ibrahim in the uproar; the children scream in fright, the man and his neighbours yell and knock into each other and the seats and the woman screeches and slaps the wrong child, shouts at the ice-cream victim, argues with everyone around her about whose fault it is keeping their heads in such close proximity to innocent children with ice-creams, and so on and so forth. Ibrahim clambers into the bus still jingling his change and tries to bring to subject back to where it should be: his money.

‘Ya ostaza, billai adena bagi algurosh di yakhi 3aleik Allah ane7na ma 3indana zaman lelkalam da wal3ishreen shafi3 al3indik deil da 7ata ma bijeb nos alqema almafrouda-‘

Oblivious to Ibrahim’s entreaties the fight continues, the ice-cream victim with a murderous look on his face and growling in response to the woman’s indifference to his condition and spitting fire at him, the bus, the government and the world in general, all the while the child who had lost the ice-cream wailing about his loss, the child wrongfully punished crying about her punishment, the other three children either busy with their ice-creams, crying in sympathy with the other kids or sticking their tongues out at the public.
Abbashar slows down and parks on the side of the road, looking in his rear-view mirror and sighing. Fights  are more than a usual sight in all modes of public transport, and it is not an unfamiliar scene to see an entire bus parked at the police station every once in a while. As usual, anyone within hearing, including everyone on the bus, has become involved in the fight; either holding back the ice-cream victim, holding back the woman, holding back the child who lost the ice-cream, tutting about the situation in general and children-these-days in specific, complaining about time lost getting somewhere important, and, of course, that it was all the kumsari’s fault.

Ibrahim jingles his change, seething at the woman and trying to get a word in between her steady flow of woman-talk, but to no avail. His voice rises bit by bit over the uproar around him and soon enough he is shouting at the top of his lungs that he JUST wants his STUPID MONEY or ELSE there will be CONSEQUENCES!
No one even looks at him twice.